Its been over 20 years since I attended the swapmeet at McLeans Island and so after a chat with Baron McSnotty I decided to join him in his pilgrimage to the island that splits New Zealand from Stewart Island.
Early starts have always been a hallmark of the Barnstormer lads adventures and this was no different. We arrived in Christchurch at stupid o’clock on Thursday morning so we could spend the day pootling about in the Hyanddry Bitz rental roller-skate, taking the sights in and around post earthquake Christchurch, Lyttelton and Akaroa. Even after 6 years , its a pretty clear reminder that we live our lives bound to a pretty thin crust of rock, floating on a ball of molten rock and iron.
And so, on to the swapmeet on Friday morning. What an awesome event. There were a few early-birds about and we pretty much just randomly lurched from site to site looking at old motorcycles and taking the occasional photo. Once the initial rush of blood had subsided a more methodical route was taken for a deeper site by site inspection of available wares.
There was a lot to take in and by the afternoon the legs were getting weary and no amount of readily available sugary snacks could combat the mental fatigue setting in. We’d pretty much passed by every site 3 times, taken time to rummage about looking for those rare Harley Chain Breaks , or John Denver memorabilia. So it was time to leave the ever increasing crowd and take in a little more of Christchurch.
We ventured over to New Brighton Beach, as we knew there had been beach racing there back in the early 1900s. After a stroll along the pier, and a chat to one of the crab fishers, I noted a placard on the pier with 2 photos of the beach racing and a note to pop into the local library to find out more, so in we popped. Unfortunately the lovely ladies at the local New Brighton Library weren’t able to add much, except to dig out a couple of photos from the online archive.
And so onto Saturday, back to McLeans Island early, ignoring the posted 9am opening time, to hoover up the bargains from the sellers who weren’t there on Friday. This was also a good time to renew some acquaintances and make some new ones. The weather turned it on, the place was packed and much merriment was had once McSnotty had been serviced by the lovely lady selling piping hot barista coffee.
We also managed to take a leisurely stroll around the static displays of cars and motorcycles, most excellent.
We returned to the Airport for our flight back to the mainland, and I was asked to smuggle a couple of kilos of cast iron brake drum in my hand luggage, as Lord McSnotty had been previously fingered for overweight bags. Obviously I got pulled during the x-ray by the lovely security lady for holding this contraband, but was let though by my disarming demeanor. It obvious to me now that I’m the eye candy in this dynamic Barnstormer duo.
Well done Canterbury Branch for an excellent event. If you’ve never been, stop making excuses and go next year. I’d say its the biggest swapmeet in NZ and well worth attending.